Saturday, June 25, 2016

New geographies


With a Turkish delight melting in my mouth, I get a last glimpse of the Pacific coastline. Ahead of me, I have almost 13 hours of flying until our 777-300ER reaches the Bosporus. Back in San Francisco, Michael and the others have been staging the first in a series of marches for nuclear power, trying to save Diablo Canyon and other critical sources of low-carbon electricity.

Just before leaving, I took Jon to Shalimar, my favourite Pakistani restaurant in Tenderloin. It is a truly timeless place, much like one of those streets in New York where you can imagine people living out their whole lives.

With every new layer, it gets harder to part with America even as I have missed my boys beyond words ever since I left Umeå nine long days ago. The Dialogue in particular had this remarkable mix of, on one hand, completely safe space and, on the other hand, razor-sharp questions that challenged me on every level. But for now, summer in North Sweden awaits!

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Treasure Island

As tradition has it, I was woken up by the foghorn echoing across the Bay. Despite the mist, the critical junctures of history were readily visible this morning.

Brexit became a reality, adding to the sense of shattered dreams. Yesterday, here at the Breakthrough Dialogue, Samir Saran expressed the same concerns over climate justice that I am voicing in my upcoming article in Globalizations about how sustained poverty abroad has become the de facto preferred climate mitigation strategy of rich countries. Considering the crucial role of energy in making broad social transformations possible, Samir’s suggestion that the rich world should “close a coal plant for every one we [in India] open, when we have the same number, we'll do it together” points to what real climate justice would look like, in particular if paired with breakthrough innovation that would enable a clean high-energy future for all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

California on a roll

A year ago, the release of “An Ecomodernist Manifesto” catapulted eco-political debates into the Anthropocene. By breaking with the palliative “fudge” of sustainable development, ecomodernism highlighted the stark macro-political choices confronting humanity in a world of uncontrolled climate change, rapid biodiversity loss and, still, highly uneven processes of globalization. Motivated by a sense of wonder of nature but also the political and moral impossibility of sustained global poverty, ecomodernists controversially argue that rather than fearfully backing into a warming world or fighting an impossible political battle to impose ecological austerity, both human and natural flourishing depend on consciously accelerating the transition to a high-energy planet of equalized life opportunities. As such, the ecomodernist worldview is propelled by a proactionary imperative which seeks to overcome both environmental and geographical determinism. Unlike traditional environmental thinking which is concerned with the just distribution of ecological space in the present, ecomodernism aims to find a long-term global trajectory towards universal prosperity on an ecologically vibrant planet.


After spending four days around Sacramento and bike-friendly Davis working on my new co-authored book, I am about to drive down to Sausalito where I will attend this year’s edition of the Breakthrough Dialogue. It took a few long brunches of revisions for me and my co-author Jon to find the right tone in our writing (the text above is one of many that we deleted) but now it feels like we are finally on track. As for the Dialogue, I am very excited about this year’s theme (“Great Transformations”) and my own panel on Ecomodernism and the Left. More to follow.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Après Paris

This week I am in London for two short days. The official reason is a nuclear policy event but with the thesis grading season in full swing and now the proofs of my new article ”Après Paris: Breakthrough innovation as the primary moral obligation of rich countries" to correct, there has been little time to actually engage with those issues.

On my way back out to Heathrow, I realize that it was not only the freshly-squeezed orange juice or the title of my paper that made me think of Paris and all that I have chosen to forego by remaining in the High North. Though I still believe I am doing the right thing, these micro-dips into the urban whirlwind do remind me of what could have been. Early tomorrow morning, the night train service will cross the river Ume and drop me off just in front of the pre-school.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Back to work

It is the second day of June and I am back to work after the parental leave (even if the picture probably suggests otherwise). Tomorrow I will examine five bachelor theses on subjects ranging from women's political participation in Lebanese refugee camps to Swedish school policy. I really appreciate this task as it allows me to read up on new topics and think about how to best turn abstract methodological and theoretical concepts into practice.